Badly Designed Bike Racks

🔖 cycling 

Yesterday I came across what is quite possibly the most badly designed bike rack I have ever seen. May I present to you: the Capitol Bike Rack by Forms+Surfaces.

Capitol BikeRack Image credit

There were two of these side by side and at first it wasn’t even clear to me that they were supposed to be bike racks (none of them were occupied, of course). Luckily they have a nice bike symbol stamped on them that eased my uncertainty, but not my doubts. Indeed, I found it impossible to lock my bike to one of these using my standard sized U-lock.

I ended up locking my bike to a bench, also designed by Forms + Surfaces, which functioned much better as a bike rack.

These were so bad, that I decided to look them up. I found a spec sheet which claimed that the racks “Meet Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) guidelines.”

Curious, what are these APBP guidelines and how bad do they have to be for this rack to meet them?

It turns out the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals do have a pretty good set of guidelines for designing and installing bicycle parking in their Essentials of Bike Parking document.

The following table lists the guidelines and whether the Capitol Bike Rack, the typical “inverted U” rack style, and a sign post meet them:

Guidline Capitol Bike Rack Inverted U Sign Post
The rack should provide two points of contact with the frame. No Yes No
Accommodates a variety of bicycles. No Yes Yes
Allows locking of frame and at least one wheel with a U-lock. Rack tubes with a cross section larger than 2” can complicate the use of smaller U-locks.. No (cross section is 4” according to spec sheet) Yes Yes
Provides security and longevity features. Yes (if you can lock to it) Yes Yes
Rack is intuitive. No Yes Yes

The Capitol Bike Rack fails to completely meet a single guidline provided by the APBP. A no parking sign post meets more. I’m not sure how they can claim that they meet these standards, but it is a blatant lie.

Please, if you are considering installing bicycle parking for your business or development, install racks that actually work. The typical “inverted U” may be boring, but they function.